A man who was mistakenly suspected of stealing a car is suing three companies in a federal lawsuit for the ordeal he suffered for 18 days. Edward Kovari, 39, was arrested as he exited a convenience store in Winchester, Virginia. Kovari had recently moved to Winchester from Houston, and police believed his vehicle was one that was reported stolen in Texas. However, the charges were later dismissed, because the car belonged to Kovari, and he was arrested based on a false report, according to the Washington Post.
After Kovari was arrested, he was arraigned and extradited to Houston in September 2016. The trip from Virginia to Houston lasted 18 grueling days, during which the man suffered extreme conditions and was denied important medication or medical care. Kovari says that he was shackled so tightly that the chains left marks on him, and he was not given enough food or water. Because the private prisoner transport companies make more money if they pick up more prisoners, the trip ended up taking much longer than one would expect. A trip from Winchester and Houston usually takes about 20 hours, but Kovari was in transport for two and a half weeks.
The lawsuit claims that at some points the van was packed full of prisoners and exceeding its normal capacity. This meant that there were times he was not able to walk or move for 12 hours or more. The prisoners were not allowed regular bathroom breaks and were told to use empty bottles or just go to the bathroom in the van. Kovari witnessed people defecating in the van and someone throwing up, but the mess was left in the van and not cleaned up. And one time when there was a flat tire, the prisoners were left in the sweltering heat for three hours while they waited for help.
Moreover, Kovari suffered from heartburn, upset stomach, and high blood pressure. His legs went numb for hours at a time, and he was in constant pain. He was denied access to his regular medication, which he takes for hypertension. So when he arrived at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, his blood pressure was 200. The three companies that are named in the lawsuit are Brevard Extraditions, Prisoner Transportation Services of America, and Prisoner Transportation Services. Many prisoners who experience extreme conditions don’t have the means to file a lawsuit, and Kovari offers a rare glimpse into the world of private prisoner transport services.